Unlike today, which has been dull and feeling chilly, Thursday afternoon was most pleasant. The sky was blue, and a fresh breeze had driven away the humidity. As Ollie had been stuck indoors waiting for me to get back from the car repairers, I decided to reward him with a longer walk, taking in somewhere we hadn’t been for a while. After the usual couple of circuits by the river, to allow him in for a refreshing dip and a drink, we went across the road bridge, and into Hoe Rough. Ollie likes to roll in the mounds of spiny grass there, and was soon rushing around excitedly.
We carried on through the metal gate, and took the narrower path leading to the Holt Road. This has become quite overgrown, and I had to be careful of the stinging nettles, as I was wearing shorts. We crossed the often busy country road ahead, and continued up to the wooded path that leads onto Hoe Common. This is not an open common, rather a woodland, with designated paths around it. There has been a lot of conservation work there recently, including the clearing of large areas of bracken, and the erection of attractive visitor information signs. I noticed that the bracken had already grown back, threatening to undo all the hard work of those who helped to remove it.
We took the path straight on, passing open fields to the left, which now contain grazing cattle, after being empty for most of the year. There are good views across from the higher ground here, and a handy bench to rest on, as you stop to admire them. But Ollie was in no mood for stopping, and pressed on, heading for the small lane, and the disused railway beyond. I went up to make sure he stopped at the road, and we then walked onto the old railway bridge. I was surprised to see some vintage carriages have reached this far along the line. The Mid Norfolk Railway is managed by volunteers, and they run trains from Dereham to Wymondham, primarily for pleasure trips, but also for the crowds of rail enthusiasts who come to look at their work. They are hoping to extend the line north to the coast, and have been working for years to repair the old rails and sleepers.
Either side of the bridge, the normally fallow fields are now full of wildflowers. In most parts, they are waist-high, but there are tiny narrow paths trodden in them, around the edges. The natural display was good to see, with flowers of all kinds mixed in with the assorted tall grasses. We headed off into the south field, where I walked carefully, making sure that I didn’t flatten any of the flowers or plants. I also had to avoid a veritable carpet of bees. The ground is completely covered in clover, both white and purple varieties, and it is irresistible to hundreds of local bees, who buzzed their wings as they worked. Ollie went ahead, invisible in the deep stems. I could tell where he was by watching the heads of the flowers and grass twitch as he went through. He found some pheasants on his travels, and they took off, squawking annoyance, as they always do.
Heading back the same way, we passed the deep ditches on Hoe Common. These are fenced off by barbed wire, and it is just as well, as the unwary could take a real tumble, if they didn’t watch their step. They are also of historical importance, as they were originally practice trenches, dug out during the First World War. Soldiers destined for service on the western front would be trained in this area, and later, in WWll, they were used as defences by the Home Guard. Once back in Beetley Meadows again, Ollie enjoyed a cooling plunge in the river, before we headed home. We had been out for over two and a half hours, and we had both enjoyed our encounter with the wildflowers.